Another Bafana Bafana coach could well lose his job today, as Shakes Mashaba goes in front of a South African Football Association (Safa) technical committee.
Mashaba has been asked to present a report on Bafana’s failure to make the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations finals, and how he intends to face the future, with the 2018 Fifa World Cup qualifiers starting next month. It could well be that a decision has already been made on Mashaba’s future, regardless of what he presents.
Safa’s tendency has certainly been to get rid of the coach when the going gets tough. With this in mind, one has to wonder when the powers that be are going to take cognisance of the fact that the coach might not be the problem.
Bafana Bafana burst on to the international scene in 1996, winning the Africa Cup of Nations in front of their fans. But from there, it has been pretty much downhill all the way. Since Clive Barker was sacked in 1997 – despite qualifying the team for the 1998 World Cup – the Bafana head coach position has changed hands 20 times.
Mostly, reigns have ended with Safa wielding a swift axe, with local and foreign coaches both feeling the call of the executioner. The national football team, meanwhile, has mainly been consistent only in its mediocrity. There is a decent argument that whoever coaches Bafana Bafana right now will struggle to qualify the team for the 2018 World Cup.
Only the group winners go to Russia – and Senegal, with players from all over the European leagues in their side, are clear favourites, while even Cape Verde are ranked above Bafana and Burkina Faso are also a tough proposition.
Safa’s struggles go way beyond their head coach, from not enough players in top leagues overseas, to poor development at home – and perhaps most importantly an over-inflated opinion of their side’s abilities.
Mashaba could argue that he over-achieved in getting the team to Afcon 2015, ahead of Nigeria. Either way, sacking him would be to again ignore the far larger problems surrounding the team.